Recent events have caused the government's popularity to increase, and Labour's popularity to fall. These short-term moves mask a longer period of consolidation that also helps the government.
After something of a hiatus, Pundit is pleased to again be offering its Poll of Polls. We will update things about once a month until either: (a) something exciting happens in the polls; or, perhaps more likely, (b) the 2011 election campaign starts.
(Ed's note: Thanks to Rob Salmond, who designed the polling system in the first place, for stepping in as Pundit's new polling analyst. Rob's a former Victoria University pol sci, now teaching at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor).
The new, improved trend charts on the Poll of Polls page show that the last eighteen months of scandals, resignations, complaints, counter-complaints, receipts, tax cuts, photo-ops, Wayne-braves, and so on have collectively produced no change at all. The New Zealand political landscape now is much as it was in early 2009.
We might think of politics as being like football, in that there are many attacks mounted for each goal scored, it is often unclear until afterwards which attacks are going to succeed, and hard fought games can easily end up with very few goals. (We might also think of our TV poll-readers as being like soccer commentator Andres Cantor, in that they become hyperbolically excited at only the slightest provocation.)
For National, this as-you-were status is something of a come down from the stratospheric polling heights they reached in late 2009, when our algorithm estimated them at about 56% support.
Since the Budget, however, there does appear to have been another uptick in National's support. For Labour, by contrast, their 31% support level is about average for the past eighteen months, and their current trend is definitely downwards. Given the headlines that some in the Labour team have been creating, this trend is unsurprising.
There is some movement in the smaller parties, however, with the Greens slowly but surely pulling away from the 5% threshold, while United Future and the Progressives continue their now traditional inter-election slide into obscurity.
Putting this all together, the ideological right has a commanding 14% lead over the left. Phil Goff and company need half of those 14% to change their minds before next November in order to turn the election into an ideological tie. That is around 165,000 currently right-leaning people, all within the next five hundred days.
To call this a tall order is an understatement, especially given the current short-term and long-term trends.